Genkaku: What’s the Point?

Genkaku is probably the most-reviled rule in tournament Taido. Players hate it. Judges hate it. In fact, most judges never force genkaku in jissen. Many tournaments explicitly forbid it.

I don’t think genkaku is all bad, but it’s definitely not my favorite part of jissen. I’m more into the meat – the part that involves hitting people. However, I can see some value to training genkaku and even in occasionally using it in jissen. After all, it was good enough for Shukumine…

Could it be that genkaku has some meaning besides giving people a chance to flip out like ninjas during jissen?

What’s the Point of Genkaku?

I’m actually not bad at genkaku. I can do the exciting flips, and I can do continuous rengi too. The two times I’ve had to do genkaku in competition, I’ve been awarded yuko for out-genkaku-ing the other guy. In one case, that yuko was the deciding factor in me winning the match.

In discussing Taido with some friends online, I mentioned that I was a little embarrassed about winning by genkaku. Here’s where the discussion went from there:

You were embarrassed? Great comment. I´m still laughing.

I´m not sure on my opinion about genkaku, especially in the middle of jissen. Maybe if it was something apart, a complement… but during jissen I´m not sure.

I think that’s a very common attitude. I responded with:

Well, it’s good to force some action when both opponents are stalling or failing to take an offensive. In some cases, two players will be very closely matched, so genkaku gives the judges a chance to see what they do in a non-standard situation. In theory, the superior player will be able to perform with aplomb even when forced to do strange things (and genkaku is certainly strange).

Maybe I should clarify – I wasn’t embarrassed to win, but that I couldn’t get a better score besides my yuko advantage from genkaku.

Then we got

What can you get out of Genkaku?
That is a good question, and I don’t really think you can get much out of it, because you just apply already known techniques on Genkaku. But you must do them faster !! (ok, maybe there’s something to get out of it )
You can try to misguide your opponent and getting a point out of it. But it’s hard, at least for me it is :) And usually I only get myself trapped again in a corner.
Maybe that’s the thing…trying to make the opponent think you’re going one direction, and then changing it, so you can reach the other corner in safety.
Then Genkaku is all about speed and/or misguidance! :)

And that’s certainly one way to look at it. Personally, I think genkaku is about encouraging people to use unshin and rengi:

Well, the purpose of genkaku is to encourage high-level technqiue in jissen. The corner guy tries to use nice tengi and the inside dude can use tengi or try a rengi combination of three or four techniques in series. The practice is to perform them while being aware of where you and the other guy are so you can transition back into combat mode effectively.

As for what you can get out of it, it really depends on how you practice. If your usual Taido practice is complete, practicing genkaku only helps make you better at genkaku in case you have to do it in a tournament. I don’t think it was designed for training. Just a chance to break up the game and being in higher-level movement.

So what do you think?

I’m curious for others’ opinions about genkaku. At the WTC in 2009, I remember hearing that a lot of Europeans think genkaku is pretty stupid – though I’m sure there are others who enjoy the practice.

When I come across something I don’t like or understand in Taido, the first thing I try to do is think about why Shukumine would have included it. That also entails trying to understand what his goals were for Taido. Then I look again at my own goals and vision of Taido and figure out how I can make genkaku, or whatever, work for me in that context.

Any ideas?

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6 thoughts on “Genkaku: What’s the Point?”

  1. Hi Andy.
    A question: do you think Master Shukumine idea about Genkaku was just “a chance to break up the game in a jissen and being in higher-level movement”? I know that is your comment, but did you make it before or after seeking the reason why Genkaku exists?
    If so, can I take the conclusion it only exists as a tournament rule, and for tournament use?

    After writing this, I just remembered that some times during practise in jissen I found myself “trapped” by my opponent against one of the corners of our dojo. It’s very hard to escape (you can attack, but most of the times it’s a no win situation), unless you know what to do because you don’t have time to think. Genkaku helps in those situations? I think it can. What do you think?

    Regards from Portugal

  2. I doubt Shukumine was concerned with ‘breaking up the game,’ but I’m almost certain that he saw genkaku as a way to bring more tengi and rengi into jissen. Most jissen rules exist in order to push players to use ideal Taido movements. From what I’ve gathered in talking to various teachers, it’s also supposed to develop strategy.

    Genkaku is not practiced seriously by many people in Japan. It’s viewed almost exclusively as a tournament rule, and only a few people seem to give it much consideration. It’s occasionally practiced before major tournaments, but it is never trained consistently or with real enthusiasm.

    Surely, practicing genkaku can help one learn to perform better in corner situations, but it’s not the only way to develop those skills and strategies.

  3. I think I would rather see this rule when the fight ends in a draw… you know, like penalties in soccer :)
    Not a big fan of breaking up the game, espescially when someone just made the mistake of standing still…

  4. I know this is an old feed but I just happened to come across it.

    I believe that Genkaku is more effective as a training tool but agree that it is not met with much enthusiasm during actual training. The fact that it is kind of thrown at us right before a tournament is probably a negative as well.

    Maybe if we were allowed to hit the guy doing tengi it would be more fun. If the person escapes without getting hit then maybe I would award him a point.

    To me it’s all about the effectiveness of each competitor and we all know that a true Taido practitioner will never get caught in a corner…

    1. Thanks for chiming in D. You’re always welcome to voice your opinions on anything here.

      I think you’re right about the unfortunate timing of almost all genkaku training. It’s always like “Oh shit! We better do this a couple of times before the competition tomorrow.” Not the best way to establish comfort or positive feelings with the rules of play.

      For the record, you can in fact hit the guy anytime he’s not in the air. That could mean hitting him before he launches his tengi (while he’s doing unsoku, or waiting to decide which way to go). Hitting someone in mid-flip is illegal because it could cause someone to break their necks.

      And I totally agree with the last bit.

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